Filipinos are burdened with the high cost of medicines. Compared to our neigboring countries, our medicines cost much higher. This is a big burden for the minimum wage workers and especially to retirees. The cost of the medicines that the Senior Citizens are taking are higher than the pension that they receive even that they get a 20% discount and VAT-free medicines.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman and Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for signing an executive order that would set a maximum drug retail price (MDRP) on selected medicines. This is expected to lower the costs of expensive prescriptions by as much as 56 percent.
“Congress lauds President Duterte for signing the EO which would enable the Filipino people to benefit even further from the Cheaper Medicines Act and certainly help lower costs of implementing Universal Health Care (UHC)- baka mapunta lang sa mga pharma companies ang pondo ng UHC,” Salceda said.
“A very good start, kaso, based sa statistics – 65% ng konsumo ay sa mga may pera from the start pa rin ang makakabili nyan murang gamot, kaya kelan ang gobyerno ang bumili in bulk at ipamigay sa mga walang pera in the first place. Under my Cheaper Medicines For All Act (HB 6219), which is an enhancement of the Cheaper Medicines Law, we expanded the MDRP to include medical supplies, and medically necessary assistive equipment such as prosthetics. This will benefit even more Filipinos,” Salceda said.
“Cheaper Medicines For All Act also allows the State to bargain for lower prices of the drugs it procures on top of the MDRP. Cheaper Medicines For All Act would thus mean that private purchase is protected with an MDRP, and public sector purchases can be made even more affordably with the bargaining power of a single-payer system,” Salceda explained.
Under Salceda’s Cheaper Medicines For All Act, the Secretary of Health will negotiate with suppliers to bring down the cost of purchases of medicines, medical supplies, and medically-necessary equipment.
“This is a system recognized as a best practice even in other countries with nationalized health programs such as the NHS in Britain and the healthcare system in Canada. When you are the biggest buyer of medicines, you should use all the negotiating power you can use for the benefit of the people,” Salceda added.
Salceda’s bill also promotes the use of the cheapest available drug with the same effectiveness as branded medicine.
“My bill also requires the Philippine National Drug Formulary to recommend the cheapest available option with the same effect. This is to discourage artificially inflated prices of branded medicine, many of which are bloated because of marketing costs. Eh hindi naman marketing ang kailangan ng pasyente. Kailangan ng pasyente, gumana yung gamot.” Salceda concluded.